(Vatican Radio) The roar of over 100 thousand Harley Davidsons have enveloped the Vatican Saturday, as bikers marked the 110th anniversary of the US motors founding. 1,400 bikes with their riders wi...Read more
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso in private audience at the Vatican on Saturday, with EU integration, the current economic cri...Read more
Carr first stirred the waters with his provocative 2008 Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” While not a technological naysayer or prophet of doom, Carr effectively argues in his latest book and in this interview that the internet has led us to become increasingly distracted on both a social and cognitive level – with current research seeming to support this, as in this 2009 paper in in The Journal of Neuroscience - further encouraging and accelerating the emphasis on superficiality, or “the shallows”.
And preceding the above items, the technology editor of Newsweek contributed his comments in “Confessions of a Tech Apostate” on the heels of a recent commencement address, wherein President Obama proclaimed, “information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”
Finally, on Monday The New York Times had a front-page feature on the mental price we may be paying for our interactive multi-tasking lifetyles. Is it all too much? Feeling information overloaded yet? If so, then the Times also offers several suggestions on how to disengage and digitally detox. With a gentle nod to Timothy Leary, maybe it’s time to turn away, tune out, and log off.
Read Full Article on Purple State of Mind
" When carried into the realm of the intellect, the industrial ideal of efficiency poses, as Hawthorne understood, a potentially mortal threat to the pastoral ideal of contemplative thought. That doesn’t mean that promoting the rapid discovery and retrieval of information is bad. It’s not. The development of a well-rounded mind requires both an ability to find and quickly parse a wide range of information and a capacity for open-ended reflection. There needs to be time for efficient data collection and time for inefficient contemplation, time to operate the machine and time to sit idly in the garden. We need to work in Google’s “world of numbers,” but we also need to be able to retreat to Sleepy Hollow. The problem today is that we’re losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we’re in perpetual locomotion. . . ."
From here it is easy to ask, what is the key to the balance between active and passive, and the good that comes from work (utilitarian value) and that which comes from the thing itself (essence)? Pope John Paul II gives us the pivotal insight -- leisure as the basis of culture.
This is not the slothfulness of a deadly sin. Rather, liesure is here defined as a person's profound capacity for reflection. It is not to be reduced to idleness but rather forms an active reflection that draws one to ponder existence -- who God is and who he is. And here we have the beginnings of a journey to authentic culture which blossoms in Christ who teaches man how to commune with himself, his neighbor with his Creator.
Many good people can preoccupy themselves with "works", and forget to feed the wellspring of those works -- faith through prayer and time with Jesus. And so it becomes crucial to retreat from our noisy and often senseless business into mountains and vales, wherever, and whatever environment helps us find God's silence and cultivate it within us so that we can bring it to the world.
We are made dumber, shallower, to use Carr's metaphor, if we fail to feed the soul with the food that grows in the fields of reflective liesure. If technology is allowed to become master, the tree rather than one of its fruits, man will become the slave and his culture will become a mechanical drudgery.
To sum up Carr, there’s nothing wrong with absorbing information quickly and in bits and pieces. We’ve always skimmed newspapers more than we’ve read them, and we routinely run our eyes over books and magazines to get the gist of a piece of writing and decide whether it warrants more thorough reading. The ability to scan and browse is as important as the ability to read deeply and think attentively. The problem is that skimming is becoming our dominant mode of thought. Once a means to an end, a way to identify information for further study, it’s becoming an end in itself—our preferred method of both learning and analysis. Dazzled by the Net’s treasures, we are blind to the damage we may be doing to our intellectual lives and even our culture.
What we’re experiencing is, in a metaphorical sense, a reversal of the early trajectory of civilization: We are evolving from cultivators of personal knowledge into hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest. In the process, we seem fated to sacrifice much of what makes our minds so interesting.